Mayor Gabriel J. Campana didn't get all he wanted Thursday night during a vote on amendments to a $20 million bond ordinance.
Others on City Council differed by saying what changes they approved in a 4-3 vote on first reading should be considered a "compromise."
In the vote, that took about two hours to reach because of intense debate, council amended the bond ordinance by adding $600,000 for specific projects.
It was upsetting to the mayor, who alleged it was an organized and last-second change that he was not given time to look at ahead of time.
"I believe that council's initiatives tonight, if they want to improve these facilities, has the potential to raise taxes," Campana said.
The additional $600,000 - added to the borrowing package council approved four weeks ago - is $900,000 less than what was proposed in an amended ordinance brought forth by the administration.
It is broken down into $100,000 more than the original request for "crucial capital improvements to City Hall and Fire Headquarters," and $500,000 more for the planned Trade and Transit Centre II garage, bringing the investment to $5 million for River Valley Transit to hire contractors to replace a parking garage on West Third and Laurel streets.
Council President Bill Hall described the changes made as "compromise," done partly to mediate for the shortfall caused when the city recently learned it did not get the $12 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant for the new parking garage.
It raises, by $100,000 to $200,000, money to be spent on City Hall, such as a leaking roof and thermostats and control systems for air conditioning and heating needing to be replaced. Employees have complained to the Sun-Gazette about the uneven temperatures and extreme heat or cold.
The proposed funding adds nothing for the East End Pool complex or Campana's initiative to add streetlights to combat criminal elements, which he estimated would cost $125,000, and also it precludes any money to be spent on other city facilities.
It provides $450,000 for public services costs, but strikes costs associated with paying for a compressed natural gas operated street cleaner. It clears the way for a new salt shed and relocated recycling center.
"I believe these initiaitive will cost us in a possible tax increase if the borrowing is done in the short-term," Campana said.
The mayor sought an amendment to a $20 million bond ordinance to add $1.5 million in borrowing to the city because, they said the interest rates were low and the city might not have the opportunity to seize such favorable long-term rates again.
"The pool can only be open for one more season," Campana said, which William C. Wright, general manager of the city Streets and Parks, confirmed.
Campana said he needs to add at least $250,000 to either East End or Memorial pools to make necessary repairs and make the pool compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Campana wanted to the River Valley Transit to be able to borrow $6 million.
The $1.5 million in additional borrowing would have no direct cost to the taxpayer and would provide the administration with a "little breathing room," Wright said.
Wright acknowledged with the Williamsport Parking Authority no longer part of the borrowing plan, William E. Nichols Jr., the city finance director, seized the opportunity and asked for the option to borrow the additional money at the same low interest rate.
Wright said administration did not do its best in presenting the additional spending and justifying it but said the city has so many pressing needs. He cautioned against ideas of borrowing money in the short-term and said if that is done the only revenue source would be raising taxes.
"That's all you hear 'Don't raise our taxes,' " Wright said of the city's taxpaying populace. "I've gone through so many cuts in the past 40 years, it's unbelievable," he said.
As for the streetlights and pool, Hall said the city has yet to decide whether it wants to have a pool and he was reluctant to borrow over the next 25 years for such things as streetlights.
Hall also said over the past decade he suspected the city put $7 million into the present-day City Hall. "When are we going to sell it and get out?" he said.
Councilwoman Bonnie Katz said her biggest concerns were not losing a fire truck to a depressed pavement that is sinking at the entrance to the fire heaquarters on Walnut Street.
"Why can't we put this in a different borrowing?" she asked, suggesting such projects could be paid for on a need-by-need basis.
It wasn't what Councilman N. Clifford "Skip" Smith thought was the right direction. "Take the dollars and then debate after we've got it," Smith said.
There will be a second reading of the amended ordinance in two weeks.